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Monday, December 17, 2012

Grey's Anatomy still running strong

Grade: 95%

ABC's Grey's Anatomy brings its fall run to a close with "Run, Baby, Run" this week. It's the day of Bailey's (Chandra Wilson) nuptials, and she is not ready for it. Does she love Ben (Jason George) enough to spend the rest of her live with him? Her first marriage ends badly, so she gets some doubts about whether entering into a second union is a good idea or not.

This episode is a great one for the character of Dr. Miranda Bailey. We get to see her strengths, and her vulnerabilities. The way she asks Meredith (Ellen Pompeo), Callie (Sara Ramirez), and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) to be her bridesmaids is perfect and unique. When Webber (James Pickens Jr.) and Ben demonstrate just how well they know her, arranging a surgery to calm her nerves, it's heartwarming. Having Webber arrive to pick her up in the limo is touching. And then, watching Bailey skip the wedding to take care of an ailing Adele (Loretta Devine) is a great moment, not just for the series, but of television in general.

The way Bailey's character is so well-defined is a shining example of why Grey's Anatomy is still top notch nine seasons in. Believe it or not, many shows have less defined characters after so many episodes because the people are played out, then stretched to keep the plots going. In Grey's, that isn't the case. Situations may arise that are dire, and they can change the characters in some ways, but the core of who they are is solid, and by keeping their behavior true to that setup, the series lives on, as enjoyable as it ever has been.

But besides being consistent, Grey's Anatomy is still able to deliver surprises, just like in real life. Bailey chooses to attend to Adele, knowing Webber needs her, rather than go to her ceremony. "Run, Baby, Run" ends without knowing whether this means Bailey is calling off the marriage, letting her doubts take over, and seeing being a doctor as a truer purpose for her than being a wife, or whether she is just the compassionate woman and friend we know her to be, sticking by someone she cares about in his hour of need. We know Ben even less, and even though he has demonstrated that he likes Bailey for who she is, will he understand her actions in this particular situation? Thus, there is a hook that remains unpredictable, a triumph for a nine year old show.

I mention that the characters in Grey's are allowed to grow, while still keeping who they are at heart, and "Run, Baby, Run" showcases this for others besides Bailey, too. Several of the main cast begin the series as interns, still unsure of themselves, untested, and lacking leadership skills. But now, they are the attendings, with a new batch of newbies to rule over. Seeing Alex (Justin Chambers) try to teach (Camilla Luddington) a lesson) in his own, not quite effective way that he stands behind one hundred percent, at least in front of her, or Jackson (Jesse Williams) take nerves out of a leg without assistance in an important surgery proves this, and it's thrilling to use this scenes to measure how far the characters have come.

This is equally true when viewing the new interns, who can be sort of paralleled with the show's original five, but are beginning to deviate significantly from those personalities, only just barely starting to come into their own. The most obvious example of this in "Run, Baby, Run" is Stephanie (Jerrika Hinton), who is smitten with Jackson, and goes along as his date to Bailey's wedding, not really understanding what is going on. One can easily picture the same type of thing happening years ago, with the old attendings taking advantage of our beloved interns without a second thought, and the interns reading so much more into it.

The new generation this year is really, really strong. Other groups of interns have been introduced in the past, but haven't had staying power. These people, Jo, Stephanie, Shane (Gaius Charles), Heather (Tina Majorino), and, to a slightly lesser extent, Leah (Tessa Ferrer), seem to have what it takes to re-invent Grey's Anatomy all over again. With many of the experienced doctors leaving the series, this allows Grey's to continue with new blood, and letting the old blood of the previous interns become the surgical stars they are meant to be. Fantastic!

All of this does not mean that Grey's is done with their current cast members, by any means. Meredith is still growing, finding within her the ability to connect to Derek's sister, Lizzie (Neve Campbell, Party of Five, Scream), even after losing her own sibling. Meredith doesn't let people in easily, but as an adult in a marriage with a big family, she is learning. And Cristina (Sandra Oh) certainly ties the know with Owen (Kevin McKidd) well before she's ready, and she may finally be in a place where she can handle being part of a couple in a mature way, and thankfully Owen seems ready to give her that chance.

And does anyone else think that Jo and Alex are destined for a real romance? 

Basically, "Run, Baby, Run" highlights what Grey's Anatomy does right, reveals a path to keep it running for many more years, and faithfully serves the characters fans have come to love over many long years. Wonderful. 

Grey's Anatomy will return to ABC Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET in January.

Want to read some of my fiction? It's on my website, JeromeWetzel.com! Also, for the latest updates and article links, as well as commentary on episodes I don't fully review, please follow me on Twitter!

Article first published on TheTVKing

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